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052110 st regis dog attack
Brandyn Jones, left, and Cody Lewis pause Thursday in the St. Regis alley where Jones fended off a dog that was attacking Lewis last week. While Jones, 17, is modest about his actions, even the owner of the dog says that it may have killed 8-year-old Cody had the older boy not intervened with a metal bat. Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian

ST. REGIS – Brandyn Jones was watching television last Thursday when he heard the screaming.

“I could tell something really bad was happening,” the 17-year-old Jones said Thursday. “So I went outside to see if there was anything I could do.”

The screams emanated from a little boy who’d been riding his bike down the dirt alley. Eight-year-old Cody Lewis was headed back home from a friend’s house to pick up a water bottle.

As Cody passed a mobile home owned by John McClelland, he was attacked by McClelland’s dog, a large wolf-dog hybrid.

The dog had pinned Cody to the ground and was snarling and biting the boy when Jones arrived.

“Cody had his arm up, like he’s shielding his face and the dog is just going after him,” Jones said.

Jones grabbed a short metal bat from his house and started hitting the dog, which weighed 175 pounds. A couple of blows forced the dog to retreat, and Jones scooped Cody into his arms.

“I just picked him up and headed for his house,” Jones said.

Cody was then whisked away to a doctor in Superior, who cleaned a serious wound to his leg and recommended that his mother Anita take him to a Missoula hospital.

Cody was stitched up at Community Medical Center and was also treated for abrasions to his stomach, where the dog also tried to bite him.

“We’re just really lucky that Brandyn was close by, because this could have been so much worse,” Anita Lewis said Thursday. “I just want people to know he’s a hero.”

Brandyn took his heroism modestly, as if he’d only done what anyone would have done.

“Anybody who knows that dog knows you’d have to get a kid away from him,” he said. “I definitely had second thoughts about going after him, but I figured I had to do something to help Cody.”

McClelland agreed that Jones quite possibly saved Cody’s life.

“I do think it’s a good thing that he intervened, because it is possible that the dog would have killed the boy,” he said.

*****

McClelland said he spoke with Cody’s stepfather and expressed his remorse, but he still has questions about the incident. Cody’s bike was found in the alley, a few feet from a car parked in McClelland’s very short driveway. The boy said he was on his bike in the alley when he was attacked.

But McClelland claims the dog was attached to a metal line and could not have reached the alley.

“I feel like he was on my property, and we’ve had a lot of kids giving the dog problems by throwing stuff at him and spraying him with gravel from their bikes,” he said. “That’s not an excuse, but when the dog is tied up, he’s working, guarding the house.”

Anita Lewis said her son knows better than to go near McClelland’s dog.

“Everybody in the neighborhood knows about that dog,” she said.

Lewis isn’t really focused on making a fuss about the precise location of either Cody or the dog, which was named Cochise. She’d rather focus on Brandyn Jones.

“I just can’t say enough good things about what he did for Cody,” she said.

Still, hard feelings are likely to linger in the neighborhood.

After authorities responded and Cody was taken away for medical treatment, another neighbor not connected to the incident came to McClelland’s house and shot his 10-year-old dog.

“Law enforcement had been there and they didn’t do anything about my dog, so I’ve got a serious problem with someone coming to my house and killing my dog,” he said. “But I’ve contacted an attorney and I will handle that situation that way. I’m just glad the little boy is OK.”

Cody missed a few days of school and will likely have a scar on his leg, but the wounds may be deeper. On Thursday, he almost couldn’t bring himself to get out of his mother’s car as she drove him down the alley to show a visitor where the incident took place.

“I think he’s pretty scared to be here where it happened,” she said.

Reporter Michael Moore can be reached at 523-5252 or at mmoore@missoulian.com.

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